Originally published February 17, 2020

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Image by Cherry Smiley

Yesterday was my grandma’s 98th birthday. She would have been 98 and one day today. She went on ahead December 16, 2019 at 4.44pm with family by her side. Two planes, one rental car, weather delays, costly travel, and stressful holiday crowds were a challenge but I made it from Montreal QC to Vernon BC to be with her at the end. She couldn’t speak when I finally arrived but I think she knew I was there.

Her leaving has been an intensely private experience for me. It’s a secret I’ve been keeping that seems to hurt more every day instead of less. She was no spring chicken, but I thought she’d stick around for another year or two. …


Was it a Squeeze or a Squeeze?: The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, Sexual Harassment, and “Cultural Miscommunication”

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Preview of Cherry Smiley’s upcoming work entitled “Sexual Harassment!”

Kindling

I’m awake early this morning to think. I used to love waking up early in the winter with my grandma. We’d sit together, just her and I, and I’d watch her make a fire. This was a good time to be together. My grandma told a lot of stories and was I ever lucky to get to hear them. When I close my eyes, I can hear her chuckling away at her own jokes with a half-smile and watch her hands move the story along. As we both got older, grandma would tell me other stories about her life and the lives of other women. All of a sudden — to me, not her — a sentence or two about sexual assault or rape or any number of other brutalities dropped into the air between us and would disappear just as quickly as other stories about other things filled the space. I’ve thought a lot about why my grandma chose to tell me these stories in this way and I won’t ever know why. What I learned from this though, is that it’s better to say it, even if it’s just for a second or two and even if that’s as far as the story goes because that’s actually a long way for stories like this to travel. Carrying these stories around is heavy and finding words to make sense of what happened is a journey that some women don’t survive. …


Photo by Manja Vitolic on Unsplash

*Originally published June 2019 here*

Someone told me recently that I rarely show anger. The rules of femininity don’t allow for anger and showing this emotion can be dangerous for women. Maybe we’ll feel guilt or sadness or fear instead — but the anger is buried in there; covered up; pushed aside. We can go through a rollercoaster of a million different emotions over a week or a year or a lifetime and my hope is we’ll get to feel our anger collectively, fully, and honestly.

In 2016 I was awarded a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (PETF) doctoral scholarship. I am grateful for the support the PETF has given to me and to others. Without this, many of us wouldn’t have been able to do the research we wanted to do and some of us wouldn’t have been able to pursue a PhD at all. …

About

Cherry Smiley

Cherry Smiley is not very good at doing what she’s told. She is a no-fun feminist, Nlaka’pamux and Dine’, founder of Women’s Studies Online www.wmstonline.com

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